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"Then what do you intend to do about it?" demanded Angela, hoping to corner Charlton into some kind of offer.

"Actually, that's the reason I called," began Charlton. "I just came back from the doctor's office, this morning. He says I have Early Onset Alzheimer's disease." Charlton paused, but Angela was stunned into silence. "I don't want to put Charlie through what lies ahead for me. You once offered to raise Charlie, and I know this is presuming a great deal of you and your family, but I was wondering if the offer was still good." Charlton nervously waited for a response. Nothing less than the events of that morning could possibly have humbled him into making this phone call.

"I'm very sorry to hear of your... difficulty," answered Angela, her voice taking on a sympathetic tone. "Of course, I'll have to talk it over with Mark first, but I'm sure we would love to have Charlotte come live with us. Martha's child was always welcome here, Chuck. You just remember that. Things could have been different if it hadn't been for that stubborn Overholt pride of yours." It took all the restraint Charlton had, to say,

"Yes, I know." Realizing that she had the upper hand of the situation, Angela decided to make the most of it.

"I'll fly down this weekend and help Charlotte pack. Of course, I'll need your address." Charlton thanked her, gave her his address, and after exchanging a few more polite remarks that neither one meant, he hung up.

He was relieved it was over, but now he had to break the news to Charlotte. Charlton dreaded this more than the phone call he had just made. He knew his daughter. If Charlotte understood that he had Alzheimer's, she would refuse to leave him. So, Charlton decided not to tell her about his diagnosis.

When Charlotte made her way home from school, she continued to ponder over her father's disturbing behavior. Upon entering the apartment, she found him sitting on the end of the sofa. Charlotte noticed that his face was unusually set and determined. Without saying a word, Charlotte went to her room, dumping the school books into an uncluttered corner of the floor, and sat down on the edge of her bed. Though just fifteen, Charlotte had a very well developed sense of womens' intuition. She had the uneasy feeling that he was going to break some kind of bad news to her. She looked up to find her father standing in the doorway.

"This room is a mess, Charlie," he chided her in a light tone. "When are you going to learn to pick up after yourself?" he asked, picking up a pink sock from the floor. Charlotte shrugged. She knew he didn't come into her room to talk about it's tidiness. "You know," began Charlton, sitting down on the bed beside his daughter, "when your mother found out she was going to have a baby, she said she was the happiest woman on earth. I believe she was." Charlton looked at his daughter. "You do look very much like her," he said. "I wish you could have known her."

"So do I," said Charlotte, leaning her head on her father's shoulder.

"I'm glad you said that," said Charlton, his voice stiffening. Charlotte raised her head. Here it came. The bad news. "After your mother died, her sister, Angela, wanted you to come and live with her and her family." Charlotte tensed. She didn't like the direction the conversation was going. In the past, whenever Charlotte disobeyed her father, he would jokingly threaten to ship her off to Aunt Angela. This time, however, he was serious. "I've been thinking," continued Charlton, his fingers toying with the pink sock in his hand, "that you are getting to the age where you need a woman around. A woman that can set a good example for you. Since your mother can't be with you, I think she would want Angela to take her place." Charlotte stood up, facing Charlton.

"Are you sending me away?" she asked.

"Charlie, it's for your own good."

"No! I won't go! Why are you doing this to me? Daddy, what's wrong?" Charlton was silent. He was planning a desperate lie.
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